Being Annie: A Rockland Actress Steps Into Character
10-year-old Brooke Lynn Murray brings the curly redhead to life at the Irvington Theater in March.
Downtown Cabaret in Bridgeport, CT
“The sun’ll come out, tomorrow!”
As anyone who’s ever seen Annie can attest, the musical’s optimism is contagious. From the moment the curly, redheaded orphan graces the stage (or the screen, if you’re a fan of the movies), she brings an unwavering positivity to her life and to the hearts of her audience. Even as she faces challenge after challenge, she overcomes them all with a bright attitude and, at the end of the tale, a happy home.
It’s that optimistic outlook that attracted Brooke Lynn Murray to the character in the first place. Murray, a 10-year-old resident of Rockland County, brings Annie to life during the play’s run at the Irvington Town Hall Theater this March. Presented by the Clocktower Players: Adult Troupe, the play tells the tale of young orphan Annie as she braves life at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage and finds a new home with billionaire Oliver Warbucks.
Yolanda Perez Photography
Murray may be young, but she’s no stranger to the acting world. In fact, she got her first taste for the world of theater while still in daycare.
“I was about three or four and, at my daycare, they had a session where you could do acting,” she recalls. She enjoyed the experience so much that she enrolled in professional classes and slowly but surely honed her skills in the Hudson Valley. Throughout the years, she’s developed quite the resume for herself with roles in a New York City off-Broadway production of Madeline’s Christmas and in Rhinebeck’s Center for Performing Arts rendition of Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, in which she portrayed Jeremy Potts. In that role, not only did she play a boy, but she also took on a British accent.
“It was a good challenge to be someone else,” she says. To get into character, she watched British Youtubers and practiced her accents on employees whenever she and her mother visited Starbucks drive-throughs.
Murray as Annie / Photo by Downtown Cabaret in Bridgeport, CT
When it comes to her role as Annie, Murray is something of an old hand. She’s already appeared as the iconic redhead twice before, at the Downtown Cabaret in Bridgeport, CT and at the Kweskin Theater in Stamford, CT. Her latest show in Irvington marks the first time she gets to embody the spunky orphan close to home. Yet regardless of where she takes the stage, Murray loves Annie because of how happy it makes her feel.
“I like [Annie’s] optimistic character and the way she acts,” she says. “She makes me happy throughout the day.” Murray embraces Annie’s good-natured attitude in her own life when it comes time to tackle tasks she might not necessarily want to do, such as, say, getting out of bed early in the morning.
“What would Annie do?” she asks herself. “She would go change the world.”
Murray’s stint as Annie in Irvington runs until the end of March. After that, she’ll continue to participate in the Broadway Youth Ensemble, a New York City-based group that sings at places ranging from Carnegie Hall to nursing homes. She’ll also keep up with her auditions in the Hudson Valley and beyond as she works toward her someday goal of appearing on Broadway.
“I want to play Elsa or Anna in Frozen on Broadway,” she enthuses. At the very least, she hopes to see the play for herself, since she loves the movie original.
Photo by Clocktower Players
For the time being, she has her eye on the character of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden.
“I really like all of the music in that play,” she explains. As for other favorites, she cites School of Rock, with its fun ballads and youth-powered cast, as a top contender in her book.
Although theater takes center stage in Murray’s life, she also enjoys getting out and about in the Hudson Valley with her mother and grandmother. In her downtime, she loves painting, art, running, and swimming at places like the Airmont park and throughout the Catskills. Just like Annie, Murray’s sense of adventure and creativity keeps her going anywhere and everywhere. After all, there’s always tomorrow!
Presented by Clocktower Players: Adult Troupe, Annie runs March 9-10 and March 16-17 at the Irvington Town Hall Theater in Irvington. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the theater’s website here.